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as entitled rather to partial than to general support, entitled to the contributions of the affluent in the metropolis like provincial societies in their respective districts. But this local employment of the National Society is neither the only nor even the chief part of its functions. The grand, the important office of the society, without which it could have no pretensions to its present title, is to correspond and to co-operate with its affiliated institutions. throughout the kingdom; to hold them together in a bond of general union; to promote uniformity both of principle and of conduct; to provide them with masters from the central institution; and to furnish pecuniary assistance as far as its means will permit. And as this important office of the society cannot be executed without a mutual desire of co-operation, we hope that the conductors of every society and of every school throughout the kingdom, established on the same principles, will keep constantly in view the necessity of union with the parent institution; for if this union be disregarded, a society intended for the benefit of the nation will be reduced in its operations to a single district; and the provincial societies and schools will be left without connection and without a head to concentrate and direct their future exertions. Considering, then, the importance of the high office which the National Society is destined to perform, we most earnestly request the affluent throughout the kingdom, who are still attached to the established religion, to consider the consequences of suffering such an institution to droop for want of pecuniary support. Churchmen in general should consider that it is both their duty and their interest to make the established religion the object of their primary care; and that it is consistent with neither, while they are pursuing plans for the benefit of the universal church, to forget the necessities of their own. Since, therefore, the cause of the National Society is the cause of the established religion, our bishops could not select a more suitable subject for a charge, nor our parochial clergy for an occasional sermon. If to recommend reading, writing, and arithmetic, (the promotion of which is one object of the National Society,) is not the peculiar province of the clergy, it is certainly their peculiar province to attend to the established religion, and to make provision for its union with those useful arts in the education of the poor.
On this account we still hope that the Corporation of London will be induced to contribute, and contribute liberally, to this society, especially as a considerable propórtion of the thousand children, which are educated in the central school, must neccssarily, from the situation of that school, be resident within the liberty of the city.
ART. II. A Brief Inquiry into the Causes of premature Decay in our Wooden Bulwarks, with an Examination of the Means best calculated to prolong their Duration. By Richard Pering, Esq. of his Majesty's Yard at Plymouth Dock. 1812. Observations on the Expediency of Ship-building at Bombay for the Service of his Majesty and of the East India Company. By William Taylor Money, Esq. late Superintendant of the Marine at Bombay. 1811.
THE interests of the British navy are closely entwined round the heart of every lover of his country, and not without reason; for in this invincible arm of his strength he sees the bulwark of his independence, his prosperity, and his glory. In the whole history of its transcendant exploits, brilliant as they always have been, never was its career more eminently distinguished by a rapid succession of victories than in the present war; never were its services more important and indispensable than when nothing was left for it to conquer-when it had driven from the ocean every ship of every foe, and rode triumphant and alone. At that moment Europe seemed to be irretrievably lost, when a British army, transported under the protection of British ships of war, was destined to arrest the march of tyranny, and stop the progress of desolation. Discussions on naval concerns are not therefore merely interesting as matters of amusement and speculation: to us, as Englishmen, they are of vital importance; nor can they be indifferent to the world at large.
The two pamphlets before us are calculated to excite the most painful sensations. The discouraging view, taken by the one, of the alarming diminution of oak timber of native growth, and by the other, of the premature decay of our ships of war, is, however, somewhat relieved by the confidence with which the writers of both speak of the remedies for the respective diseases which they describe. We may also derive some satisfaction from the persuasion that, like most professors of the healing art, they have exaggerated the danger of the symptoms, in order to enhance the value of the cure. This is, at least, worth ascertaining; and we shall therefore enter pretty fully into the examination of the two cases, with the modes of treatment; giving the preference to that stated by Mr. Pering, as it is the more complicated in its symptoms, and the effect of the remedy which he proposes is somewhat more equivocal.
Richard Pering, Esq. of his Majesty's Yard at Plymouth Dock,' is not, it seems, a professional man, nor in any shape concerned with ship-building. He is any thing but a learned man,
and has no pretensions whatever to abstract science. But he has been nearly thirty years, he tells us, in his Majesty's service, and is one of the longest standing, as a principal officer, (clerk of the cheque, we believe,) of any in the dock-yards. He has, therefore, seen ships of war, and it is sufficiently obvious that he has looked at them too, with the eyes of one who knows something about their construction. He tells us, indeed, that he has considered the subject long and attentively; that it has been his study and delight; and on these grounds he presumes to consider his opinions as entitled to some weight. We have no objection to listen to the opinions of a man on any particular branch of the arts, because he happens not to be an artist; he is likely at least to possess one advantage-that of being free from technical prejudices; from such we fully absolve Mr. Pering.
The general result of Mr. Pering's observations on ships and ship-building is stated to be a thorough conviction that many and most essential improvements may be adopted, not only in the models of our ships, but in their preservation. Of the two subjects, the latter is, beyond all comparison, the most important. It has never, we confess, given us much uneasiness to hear encomiums on the beautiful curves and lines of the bottom of a French ship of war; nor are we jealous of the superior science which has produced them; being fully persuaded that, in all the essential qualities-in stability, stowage, and berthing the men, our ships of war are invariably preferable; while it is by no means a settled point, that French ships generally outsail ours.
If the theory of naval architecture has been carried farther by the French than by us, we have at least the advantage in point of practice; if they have more science, we have more solidity; if they have more skill in drawing the lines, we have better workmanship in putting the materials together-though, if Mr. Pering be correct, our shipwrights are still miserably deficient, even in that part of their profession. In France, it must be observed, the science of ship-building has invariably been kept separate from the art: the builder there has no science; he merely follows the plan, which he can neither draw nor describe; whereas, with us, the men who handle the adze, furnish the designs, and are consequently far superior in a general knowledge of the machine to be constructed to the French builders. Our own opinion is, that very little of science or skill is exhibited, either by us or the French, in the present mode of constructing a ship. We profess ourselves to be no great clerks,' but we cannot avoid thinking that, of all the arts, this has made the least progress in improvement, and that the best constructed ship is pretty nearly the same rude machine which it was at the earliest periods of its invention. It has grown in magnitude,
nitude, it is true, and its defects have probably grown in the same proportion. We see, in the finest constructed ship, little more than congregated logs of heavy timber, inartificially placed beside each other, each pulling by its own weight a different way; the beams thrusting out the sides, the sides bolted to the beams to prevent their tumbling in, the overhanging stern tearing itself from the body of the ship, and the body struggling to fall in pieces, in spite of the distorted plank which binds it together:-no two parts, in short, giving mutual support:-still, however, it may be suited to the element in which it is intended to move; the equal pressure of this fluid binds all together, and the fragility of the machine is only put to the test when in contact with the ground; then, indeed, the whole fabric resolves itself into its constituent parts, scarcely any two of them remaining in adhesion. The act of launching seldom fails to break a ship-that is, to alter the line which was straight before launching, to a curve of six or seven inches when floating in the water. This strain loosens, to a certain degree, every fastening in the machine; yet, according to the present practice of putting a ship together, her existence almost wholly depends upon the fastenings; but this is a subject to which we shall hereafter
have occasion to advert.
We cannot omit the present opportunity of noticing the able and judicious remarks of the commissioners for revising the civil affairs of the navy, on the theory and practice of ship-building. In speaking of that mixture of theory and practice which enables us to build better than the French, at the same time that it may lead to other effects that are hurtful, they observe,
Where we have built exactly after the form of the best of the French ships that we have taken, thus adding our dexterity in building to their knowledge in theory, the ships, it is generally allowed, have proved the best in our navy; but whenever our builders have been so far misled by their little attainments in the science of naval architecture, as to depart from the model before them in any material degree, and attempt improvements, the true principles on which ships ought to be constructed (being imperfectly known to them) have been mistaken or counteracted, and the alterations, according to the information given to us, have in many cases done harm.
'From the same cause there has been infinite variety in the alterations made, and in the forms which have been adopted. The alterations being founded on no certain principles, no similarity in the form of the ships could be expected, and they have the appearance of having been constructed on the chance that, in the multitude of trials made, some one might be found of superior excellence. While, therefore, our rivals in naval power were employing men of the greatest talents, and most extensive acquirements, to call in the aid of science for improving the construction of ships, we have contented ourselves with
groping on in the dark, in quest of such discoveries as chance might bring in our way.
Nothing certainly can be more surprizing than that, in a nation so enlightened as this is, and whose power, importance, and even safety, depend on its naval superiority, matters so essential to the preservation of that superiority should so long have been neglected.
As a remedy for this great evil, it has been proposed, that the ships of each class or rate should be constructed in every particular, according to the form of the best ship in the same class in our navy; of the same length, breadth, and depth, the masts of the same dimensions, and placed in the same parts of the ship, with the same form and size of the sails.'*
The Commissioners farther observe, that the French have been so completely convinced of the disadvantages arising from this variety, that they have, from time to time, ascertained by ordinances, the forms on which the ships of each class or rate must be constructed. We do not understand, however, that either the example of the French, or the intelligent observations of the Commissioners of Revision, have yet had the effect of changing the old system founded on no fixed principles. With the exception of a lot of seventyfour gun ships recently built in merchants' yards, and which, as far as we can learn, have not turned out well, the plans of all our ships of war continue, as heretofore, to be determined by the predilection of some professional Lord of the Admiralty for some ship which he may have commanded; or by the prejudices of the surveyors of the navy in favour of some chance draught which may have succeeded; or by the encomiums lavished on some prize ship by the officer who may have captured her, &c. All this is perfectly natural, and, if it stopped here, might not be much amiss;-but the mischief follows: each, in turn, suggests some change in the figure of the ship, by which she is to become a paragon of excellence; for instance, a little more sheer,-a little more breadth of beam,a little more height between decks, &c. without considering how small a deviation from the original draught will alter the line of flotation and affect her sailing; change the center of gravity and affect her stability; and, instead of improving, destroy every good quality which she before possessed. The disadvantages arising from such a variety of models are of serious importance. When Lord Nelson was off Cadiz with 17 or 18 sail of the line, he had no less than seven different classes of 74 gun ships, each requiring different masts, sails, yards, &c. so that if one ship was disabled, the others could not supply her with appropriate stores.
One part, however, of the Report of the Commissioners, and a
* Third Report of the Commissioners for revising the Civil Affairs of the Navy.Page 194.